Oak Cubes

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by chocosushi, Dec 19, 2012.

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  1. chocosushi

    chocosushi Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Oklahoma

    First time using Toasted Oak Cubes, more
    familiar with chips. Couple questions:

    Do I have to boil them? I like extreme wood profiles when I'm using Oak.
    Are they Reusable?
    Timeframe? How Long or Short of a period do I need to let the beer condition?
  2. OldSock

    OldSock Defender (655) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    I assume you are doing a clean beer (not sour)? Saniitizing them with steam will remove less of their flavor.

    They'll keep imparting flavor for about 4-6 months. I like aging on less oak for a longer time period, I find you get more of the complex wood flavors, and less lumber. I usually do about an ounce, but then I don't like huge oak flavor. Taste the beer and decide when its ready, it depends on too many factors to give you the right answer.

    I don't think they are worth reusing, but you certainly could for a mellower oak character. Toss them in a lambic!
    willandperry likes this.
  3. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    I have always soaked them in a spirit to ensure they don't add anything I don't want to the beer. If you don't want to add the flavor of a spirit like bourbon, use a couple of oz of vodka. Some of the oak goodness will leach out into the spirit, and you can just drop the whole thing in when you are ready to "oak" your beer.

    I have never re-used. I wouldn't.

    I have added them to beers that finished primary fermentation and have let them remain in the carboy for as little as 5 days and as much as 2 weeks. As for the amount of oak, I have usually added 1-2 cubes per gallon. I prefer a subtle result, rather than overpowering.
  4. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Does the amount of time the oak chips have been soaking do anything or is there a point where you are going to plateau when it comes to taste? About 4 years ago I was getting ready to make a batch of beer that I was going to add oak chips that were soaking in whisky. I placed them in an ice tea jar and put them in the back of my fridge. I forgot about them and just found them about a month ago... shows you how disorganized my fridge is that I lost track of oak chips soaking in whisky! Thinking about doing a barelywine or something big like that with them.
  5. DrewBeechum

    DrewBeechum Meyvn (1,236) Mar 15, 2003 California
    Supporter Subscriber

    I would totally use them. I used some 9 year old cubes last year on a barleywine and it was awesome.
  6. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Yeah, it was a nice little surprise to find those.
  7. chocosushi

    chocosushi Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Oklahoma

    This sounds amazing. 4 year infused oak chips.

    So, basically, the consensus is, if you aren;t going to use a soaking spirit (rum, bourbon, the like)
    then at least use vodka/grain alc. to get rid of the lumber flavor if i desire?
    I think i'm gonna try a batch withOUT soaking to see if I like the aggressive woody component.
    I'm a big fan of super woody beers.
  8. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,620) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    So the booze soak is to get rid of the lumber tastee? I though it was to sanitize and add additional (booze) flavor.
  9. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Indeed! I would strongly discourage adding oak without first killing the bugs that it inevitably contains. Soaking in booze for a few weeks and/or boiling. I recently soaked 2 oz cubes in bourbon for two weeks, then put them in the microwave for two minutes (just until the spirits started to boil) just to be sure.
  10. chocosushi

    chocosushi Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Oklahoma

    Thanks guys!
  11. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    If you aren't soaking it in spirits and want to get more of a fresh oak effect, I've found the best method to be soaking it in plain old H20 for a few days. This will pull the really raw wood notes and unpleasant tannins and ashiness out of it. Then, before you're ready to use it, you strain the oak out, dump the water, and toast it in the oven for a half hour or so. That'll kill off any bugs and evaporate most of the water that's been absorbed.
    chocosushi and bgjohnston like this.
  12. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    The spirit soak is to kill any undesired organisms, but you can bake them out, too. Just watch that you don't over-toast the wood, or you will get burnt flavor.
  13. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I like to do a long soak, but I think that I'm getting rid of more burnt/charred flavors than the good flavors. As I understand it you char/heat the wood to change the sugar molecules. You get the best flavors from those molecules and other components of the wood that are more stable. Now maybe that’s not the best technical assessment but that perspective seems to work for me.

    I've added the liquid from soaking back into test batches at varying levels. While it did add in strong flavors they weren’t very complex and I seemed to lose some of the sweetness from the oak that was present before..

    You might want to get enough oak for two batches. And I recommended cubes over chips. Use the first batch no-soak and start soaking the second group of oak for future use.
  14. chocosushi

    chocosushi Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Oklahoma

    ^^Ahh see this is a big help, because I was weary of soaking for the fact
    of dumping those spirits INTO the beer. If anything I'd only want the essence of the spirit,
    not a full .1% raise in alcohol per oz of liquor.

    As of yet, I have 2.5 gallons of Dry-Beaned Kona-meats-Michigan Coffee Stout on
    unsoaked hungarian oak cubes (about 2 oz). Lots of bubbles forming around the cubes.

    I am also taking the advice & reserving 2oz of cubes for a future batch sitting in
    a mason jar on 2oz of Cazadores Reposado Tequila. Yeehaw.
  15. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    That sounds awesome! I was thinking about that the other day - what an oak aged Tequila beer would taste like. I say go for it.
  16. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Tequila barrels, or even oak soaked in tequila, produces good beer if the right flavors are paired up. I don't know if it works well with every kind of beer but I haven't tasted a bad combination yet.
  17. yinzer

    yinzer Initiate (0) Nov 24, 2006 Pennsylvania

  18. barls

    barls Initiate (145) Nov 15, 2006 Australia

    personally i like medium toast plus hungarian oak in beer, works really well and is almost impossible to over oak with. i go with the cubes in a glass a cm or two of water cover the glass then microwave for about 1-2 minutes then add to what ever im using it in for
    bgjohnston likes this.
  19. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    I bought a little baggy of those exact same cubes at the shop, and I will be able to oak for another year at the rate I am using them. I like how they work.
  20. barls

    barls Initiate (145) Nov 15, 2006 Australia

    im just about through the 400g i bough initially. bloody nice
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